can i sue my employer for workplace accident

Workplace accidents can have devastating consequences.

The workers’ compensation system in Arkansas supports and protects injured employees after an accident.

Many clients ask, “Can I sue my employer for a workplace injury?” In most cases, you cannot sue an employer if you are hurt on the job. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

If you want to file a worker’s compensation claim, speak to the Cottrell Law Office to see if you can also sue your employer.

You Must File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Before you can sue your employer, you must file a claim with their insurance carrier. 

Workers’ comp in Arkansas is essentially a no-fault insurance system that provides benefits to employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses. This system covers a wide range of situations, including:

  • Accidents. Employees sometimes slip and fall, get injured by a machine, or are hurt in a car accident while on a work-related trip. Workers’ compensation typically covers these types of injuries.
  • Occupational illnesses. Workers’ compensation can apply if you develop a disease due to workplace exposure. These can range from mild flu cases to severe cancer diagnoses.
  • Repetitive stress injuries. Many workers make repetitive motions at work. This repetition can lead to issues like carpal tunnel syndrome or back pain.
  • Aggravation of preexisting conditions. Sometimes, a work-related incident can worsen a preexisting medical condition. Workers’ compensation can provide benefits in these cases.

Your employer’s insurance will receive your claim and coordinate your care. If the claim is approved, workers’ compensation will provide benefits while you recover. 

What Benefits Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?

Workers’ compensation provides several essential benefits for employees, ranging from medical care to financial relief.

Medical Coverage

Perhaps the most crucial benefit is the coverage of medical expenses related to your work-related injury or illness.

Your employer’s insurer will ensure you receive all necessary treatment without incurring substantial medical bills. It will choose a doctor for you and pay for all medical costs related to your injury.

Wage Replacement

Some injuries and illnesses can cause you to miss work. Workers’ compensation typically provides wage replacement benefits if your doctor says you cannot work.

This benefit has some nuances, and wage replacement is only available if you miss more than seven days of work.

Vocational Rehabilitation

An injury may sometimes prevent you from returning to your previous job. Since you can’t return to work, you must develop new skills for a different occupation to continue working.

Workers’ compensation may offer vocational rehabilitation services to help you during this process.

Workers’ Compensation Is the Exclusive Remedy

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. It covers all injuries that occur at work, so it doesn’t require fault from your employer.

Because this coverage is so broad, workers’ compensation has an exclusivity rule.

Under this rule, worker’s compensation is often your only remedy. This means that you usually cannot sue your employer for an injury.

When Can I Sue My Employer For A Workplace Injury?

While workers’ compensation provides a safety net for injured workers, exceptions exist. However, these are very rare and usually come with a high burden of proof. 

You must usually need to show that your employer’s actions went beyond ordinary negligence.

In these cases, you must show that the workplace accident was due to the employer’s recklessness or intentional wrongdoing.

Speaking with an attorney can help determine if your case is strong enough to file a lawsuit against your employer.

You Can Sometimes Sue Other Parties

Although worker’s compensation usually prevents you from suing your employer, it doesn’t bar all lawsuits. Sometimes, you can sue a coworker if they are responsible for your injuries.

Other times, you might be able to sue a third party who caused the accident. For example, you might be able to sue a manufacturer if a defective product led to the injuries. 

How Long After a Work Accident Can You Sue?

If you have a valid claim, you must file a lawsuit within three years. This is the statute of limitations on all personal injury claims in Arkansas. This three-year limitation begins on the day of the injury.

Speak with the Cottrell Law Office

Workplace injuries often have long-lasting effects, some of which are hard to notice for some time. If you need to file a worker’s compensation claim, speak with Wes Cottrell.

With over 32 years of legal experience, he knows how to report your work-related injuries and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

Call today to schedule your consultation.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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